Government consults UK faith leaders on global development strategy

By agency reporter
March 19, 2009

Lambeth Palace hosted a consultation on Tuesday 17 March 2009 between faith communities and the UK Government's Department for International Development (DfID) on the forthcoming White Paper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's senior advisors on inter-faith relations and international development were joined by representatives from all the UK's religions and many development agencies to discuss the White Paper consultation and to emphasise the contribution of religious communities to its formulation.

DfID are currently working on a new White Paper setting out the focus for development[,] and how to stop the financial crisis reversing the progress made in recent years.

The International Development Minister, Ivan Lewis, who attended the consultation, commented on the ability of faith communities to bring their networks, experience and religious perspectives to bear on international development issues, particularly in the light of the current economic and financial crisis.

He declared: "Today we stand at a critical juncture. We face a financial crisis which could push 90 million people more people into extreme poverty by the end of next year.

"We must come up with new solutions and new ways of working that address the development challenges we face in the 21st century. Faith groups are critical to that."

Lewis added: "Faith is fundamental to understanding and relating to the world. It helps shape how we understand the opportunities and challenges of life – and how we respond to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Your voices are essential."

The meeting also discussed the best means of longer term engagement and partnership by faith communities in the development of DfID's policies and programmes, including the inter-related issues of climate change, conflict and debt.

Over the coming weeks and months, DfID will be holding a series of regional consultations to discuss these priorities and the shape of the White Paper. DfID is encouraging wide participation and would like to hear your views on the future direction of international development.

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